Today's actions are impacted by our perception of what the future will bring, both in terms of opportunities as well as challenges. It is increasingly becoming more clear that processes such as climate change and circular resource flow will impact the Nordic-Baltic region and that cross-border solutions are in need - making a successful regional cooperation crucial.  The Future Trends of Food In Nordic Baltic Region project sets out to address these challenges and opportunities by closing the knowledge and awareness gaps in the region when it comes to food, nutrition, health and sustainability. The ambitious long term goal is to change current food production and actual preferences and consumption in the region to a healthier, smarter and digitally trained system. This will require using the potential of AI enabled solutions where high quality data in large amounts is a necessity.

Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Latvia is leading the project together with several partners, including SITRA (FI), MATIS (IS), Afton Halloran Consulting (DK), Nordic Food Tech (DK), Center for Food and Fermentation (EE), LitMEA (LT), Baltic Studies Centre (LV), BIOR (LV), EIT FOOD Latvia (LV).

Building Sustainable Food Systems Hackathon

The project is running in the course of 2020 and aims to strengthen the level of integration in the Nordic-Baltic region through events, research and communication. The Future of Food: Building Sustainable Food Systems 24-hour Hackathon was held in Riga on the 18-19th of February 2020 and aspired to find new solutions and promising business ideas on how to improve the food production, processing, and consumption towards a more sustainable future. The hackathon provided a stage to connect students, food innovators, startup founders and leading industry experts to brainstorm, build and validate new ideas with the potential to transform the food sector. Participants from over 13 different countries gathered together and divided into 16 teams to work on the idea in one of four outlined tracks: circular shift, food waste, new food, digitalization.The three best teams were awarded a shared prize fund of €10 000 to realize their ideas.

8 megatrends affecting the future of food in Nordic and Baltic region

A fundamental part of the project is scientific research Eight megatrends in Nordic-Baltic food systems on nutrition in the Nordic-Baltic region from a health and sustainability perspective - and to communicate the results.

The research has taken place in the context of climate change and the possibilities brought about by the industry revolution 4.0, digitalization, as well as the social context of inequality and climate anxiety. Aimed at drawing attention to likely future scenarios, the project's goal is to overcome food system-related hurdles ahead of time before these issues become disruptive. The megatrends range from the redesign of food systems and modern technological impact to changes in dietary preferences and consumption patterns, and even an identified trend of societal anxiety around changes linked to overconsumption and climate change.

The scientific work is carried out by the latvian Institute of Food safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR”, which delivered analysis and comparable nutrition data in the region that is used as a base for developing mega trends. Dr. Afton Halloran established the research design and participated in the mega trend development process. Mega trends are developed based on a methodology developed by SITRA from Finland and with adequate input from icelandic MATIS. Eventually, key messages of Mega trends are to be represented through social media and by the Baltic Study Centre.

Discussions at the conversation festival "Lampa"

Communicating these issues is a priority in the project. Future of Food was a topic at one of the sessions at the conversation festival LAMPA on september 4th 2020 in Riga and online. The discussion addressed How does the future of food look like? with a panel consisting of Afton Halloran, scientist Miķelis Grīviņš and eco-farmer Jesper Holm, moderated by Maija Kāle from NCM Latvia. The discussion revolved around how future trends will impact the food system and the society as a whole - especially concerning the role of technology. In addition, two podcasts have been produced - one featuring Alexandra Genis and another with Miķelis Grīviņš. 

The future of the food system

To better understand the changes in food consumption and agrifood startup environment in Baltics in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EIT Food CLC NE and Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Latvia collaborate on assessing opportunities for the future of the food system in Nordic and Baltic countries. Both organizations will perform an analysis of the local situation and global trends as well as disseminate information on the new trends to a wider audience in Baltic countries. 

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